Sex Slaves Find Hope
On Thursday Craigslist introduced measures to crack down on human trafficking - but only in America. What about Canada?
Her body didn't look a day over her age -- 14.
The stretched scraps of clothing covered just enough skin and men wanted to buy her -- upwards of $200 an hour for this one.
A girl three years older had taken the picture and posted it on Craigslist, a San Francisco-based website for free classified ads.
What the dozen men a day who visited the teens in motel rooms west of Toronto weren't told in the salacious ads was that the girl in the picture, and the girl behind the camera, were working under the wrath of their pimp-turned-slave trader.
Now nearly a year after the older girl escaped her confinement and went to police with her story -- prompting the younger girl's rescue and the first human trafficking conviction in Canadian history -- Craigslist has announced new measures to crack down on human trafficking.
But only south of the border.
"My hope is as the agencies become more robust in Canada, it will make more sense for us to embark upon that collaboration," Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said from New York.
He was referring to the relationship he has developed with attorneys general across the U.S. and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. They were behind the recent announcement that those posting in the erotic services section on the U.S. Craigslist sites would have to pay a $5 fee with a credit card.
Like the phone number verification system set up by the website in March, this is another step to not only validate businesses that use Craigslist, but make it easier for police to track the postings back to the users, should they be subject of human trafficking investigations.
But neither of these regulations apply to any of the nearly 50 Canadian Craigslist sites. And the need for them is pressing, said human trafficking expert Benjamin Perrin, an assistant professor of law at the University of British Columbia.
"We have documented cases, convictions in court where Craigslist was used to sell Canadian girls," Perrin said. "The fact that there are no safeguards in place in Canada is very troubling."
Craigslist currently has about fifty sites within Canada.